• DARPA's headquarters in Arlington, Virginia.

DARPA's headquarters in Arlington, Virginia. (Photo : DARPA)

Six months after China announced plans to establish its own version of the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), the Republic of China or Taiwan has revealed its intent to do the very same thing.

Japan announced a similar plan to create a DARPA-like agency in November 2013. South Korea also wants a DARPA of its own.

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Taiwan's Deputy Minister of National Defense Lee Hsi-ming recently said Taipei is seriously considering organizing its own DARPA to accelerate the research, development and application of military technology.

Lee's statement, which was made at the 14th annual US-Taiwan Defense Industry Conference in Virginia, followed media reports saying Taiwan lags behind other East Asian countries in establishing a DARPA-like agency. Japan and China have already organized advanced defense research establishments.

Lee's announcement about establishing a "Taiwanese DARPA," however, triggered debate among legislators in the country's parliament, the Legislative Yuan. Critics of the proposed think tank said the proposal for its creation might become a contentious policy item since it will require sharing or distributing funds across agencies.

This has been a source of corruption in the past. Other critics fear the Taiwanese DARPA might be another government attempt to enter into the arms buying business, which might be another source of corruption.

Taiwan's Ministry of National Defense emphasized that arms procurement and business integration won't be part of the mission of Taiwan's DARPA.

Because of perceptions the proposed agency might be used as a vehicle for illegal dealings, the government should explain how a "Taiwanese DARPA" will be structured, said Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Johnny Chiang.

 While Taiwan bickers over corruption in its DARPA, Japan and China are proceeding with organizing their own military think tanks.

In late 2013, Japan finalized the budget for its DARPA, which apparently doesn't have a name yet, but is being jokingly referred to as JARPA. Japan's DARPA will merge civilian and military research, which Japan hasn't done before.

By the way, JARPA won't be the name of this agency since the acronym JARPA also stands for Japan's whaling program, which has kept drawing international condemnation for its slaughter of whales.

Advocates of Japan's DARPA note this agency will boost Japan's ability to develop advanced military technology such as the Mitsubishi F-3 stealth jet, Japan's indigenous fifth generation fighter that should become operational in the next decade.

Military analysts said Prime Minister Shinzo Abe supports the plan to establish Japan's DARPA since this jibes with his goal to make Japan a stronger military nation able to repel threats from aggressive neighbors such as China and North Korea.

Last March, China formed a new science and technology committee to manage defense research and development. The committee has the Chinese name "Asjunweikejiwei" and is tasked with meeting the needs of China's rapid military modernization